When the WPIAL football playoffs matchmakers get together today, one of their toughest questions will be what to do with Central Valley.
A week ago, Central Valley looked like a No. 2 seed, at worst, for the Class AAA playoffs. But the Warriors are damaged and leaking oil heading into the postseason.
Central Valley lost a non-conference game Friday night to Beaver Falls, 36-35. Beaver Falls is a Class AA team. But it's not just that loss that might hurt Central Valley's seeding. It's whom the Warriors might have lost.
For starters, star receiver Robert Foster had two personal foul penalties in the game, which is an automatic ejection. In Pennsylvania high school football, an ejected player is ineligible to play the next game, so Foster is out for the first round of the playoffs. Foster, by the way, made a recruiting visit to the University of Alabama this weekend.
To complicate matters for Central Valley, leading rusher Jordan Whitehead sustained a shoulder injury in the game and quarterback Nathan Climo left the game with a head injury. Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said the status of those two players will not be known until today or later this week.
"If the WPIAL knocks us down to a 5, 6 or 7 seed, then that's what they feel," Lyons said. "We lost an exhibition game in the last game of the year. If that's the case, then I guess we let the WPIAL down."
Complicating the decision for the WPIAL is that Central Valley tied for the Parkway Conference championship with West Allegheny and Montour. All three teams were 1-1 in head-to-head competition. Central Valley got the No. 1 seed based on tiebreaker points. West Allegheny is No. 2 and Montour No. 3. But both West Allegheny and Montour have only one loss overall while Central Valley has two.
So does the WPIAL still give Central Valley one of the top three seeds in Class AAA because the Warriors were the No. 1 seed from a tough conference? Or does the league look at the injuries and the loss to Beaver Falls and seed the Warriors behind West Allegheny, or even Montour? Central Valley beat West Allegheny, but lost to Montour.
Lyons was not happy playing a non-conference game to end the season.
"If you take a poll of every coach in the WPIAL, I would have to say not too many of them would be too happy [finishing the regular season with a non-conference game]," Lyons said. "We got beat by Beaver Falls. Hats off to them. They battled us. But we had nothing to gain out of that football game. Nothing. Do you rest guys? Do you sit guys? I don't know. This isn't the NFL."
Another bracket that will be tough to seed will be Class A because Sto-Rox's 25-0 victory against Rochester Friday shook the Class A playoff tree.
Clairton will be the No. 1 seed. But where will the WPIAL go after that? Sto-Rox, Rochester and Neshannock all tied for the Big Seven Conference title, but Sto-Rox got the No. 1 seed from the conference because of tiebreaker points. Rochester was second and Neshannock third.
Sto-Rox's victory against Rochester might move the Vikings all the way up to the No. 2 seed overall. Neshannock is good enough to deserve a top five seed, but the WPIAL can't put Neshannock in the top eight because it finished third and will play on the road in the first round. Home teams get the top eight seeds. So, the highest Neshannock can be seeded is No. 9.
The WPIAL will have a similar problem in Class AAAA. Central Catholic is seemingly good enough to be seeded in the top eight. But the Vikings can't go any higher than No. 9 because they must play on the road in the first round.
You could see a Central Catholic-McKeesport matchup in the first round.
South Fayette (9-0) put together some of the most impressive statistics -- individual and team -- in the WPIAL in recent years. Consider these Lion feats:
• In each game, South Fayette forced the mercy rule. Under the rule, the clocks runs continuously in the second half when one team gets ahead by 35 points.
• South Fayette averaged 50.7 points a game and gave up a total of 24 points in nine games. The Lions are riding a four-game shutout streak.
• Quarterback Christian Brumbaugh finished as the WPIAL's leading passer with 2,138 yards. He is the first WPIAL sophomore to throw for 2,000 yards during the regular season since Penn-Trafford's Tony Zimmerman passed for 2,359 in 1993.
Brumbaugh and Mt. Lebanon's Tyler Roth both finished the regular season with more than 2,000 yards passing. This is only the fourth time in more than three decades that two quarterbacks passed for 2,000 yards in the regular season.
Records that go back to only 1979 show that the only other years with two 2,000-yard passers were 2005 (Penn-Trafford's Tyler Huether and Beaver Falls' Dom Henderson), 2004 (North Catholic's Jason Schanbacher and Seton-LaSalle's Bill Stull) and 1994 (Shaler's Bryan Smetanka and Frazier's Chad Salisbury).
Aliquippa finished the regular season as the top scoring team in the WPIAL at 52.2 points a game. The rest of the top five in scoring were South Fayette (50.7), Clairton (47.9), Washington (45.6) and Thomas Jefferson (42.9).
South Fayette had the No. 1 defense at 2.7 points a game. The Lions were followed by Aliquippa (4.0), North Allegheny (4.1), Beth-Center (5.1) and Franklin Regional (6.8).
Matt Bodamer, a senior at Port Allegany High School in District 9, became Pennsylvania's all-time leading passer Friday night when he completed 18 of 22 passes for 346 yards in a 55-20 victory against Brockway. Bodamer now has 9,787 yards, bettering the old mark of 9,752, set by 2011 Brockway graduate Derek Buganza.
Bodamer also holds the state record for career touchdown passes with 126. But he is more than just a passer. He has 1,974 yards rushing in his career.